Kenya Volleyball Federation (KVF) Technical Director David Lung’aho considers Malkia Strikers as a potential surprise package in the upcoming 2018 FIVB Volleyball Women's World Championship set to be held in Japan from September 29-October 4 2018.
The national team is in Pool D alongside Brazil, Serbia, Dominican Republic, Puerto Rico and Kazakhstan. Only the top four teams from each group will proceed to the second round.
Speaking to Nation Sport from the team’s residential camp at the Sportsview Hotel, Lung’aho noted that the girls have shown steady improvement since June when they started preparations for the tournament and are now in good shape to finish at least third in the group.
“Currently we are 55% overall in terms of performance. When we started we were at around 39% and we set a target of being at 60% by the time we leave for Japan. At this rate, I think we can even get to 65% in the next few days. I am really impressed by the work the girls have put in training,” offered Lung’aho who will accompany the team to Japan.
2006 and 2010 finalists Brazil are favourites to win the group where Lung’aho expects Kenya to give a good account of themselves against Kazakhstan as well as the Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic who they faced in the 2013 Grand Prix.
“Brazil and Serbia are way ahead of us but I think we can handle Kazakhstan, Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic. We played them in the Grand Prix and it was tight, anybody can win. The target is to win at least two matches, get to the second round then we can plan ahead from there,” added the experienced tactician.
Despite the Malkia Strikers having enjoyed good preparations courtesy of sponsors National Oil Corporation, Lung’aho has challenged the government to chip in and boost their preparations with international matches in future assignments.
“Cameroon has been playing friendly matches in Europe and Brazil because their government supports the team. Playing local friendlies is not enough when preparing for an international competition. If the government can give these girls half of what they give other sports, I am sure they will do wonders,” asserted Lung’aho.
To maintain their shape, Malkia Strikers have played friendly matches against local clubs Kenya Prisons, Kenya Pipeline and Strathmore University men’s side Jaguars.
They are scheduled to leave the country on Tuesday next week for Japan where they will step up preparations in a 10-day training camp facilitated by Japanese coach Sadatoshi Sugawara.